“Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, ‘I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!'” — Mark 9:24
Call me a pessimist, or maybe a realist, possibly “skeptical” is the best word for it, but I often have low expectations. Maybe I think this way so I won’t be disappointed; I’d rather be pleasantly surprised than disappointed.
But in spiritual matters — like when we pray for God to do something — I have come to realize that my tendency to be realistic is really unbelief.
It looks a little something like this.
My church is doing this big event called “Shop with a Hero” where we’re bringing in kids from the free/reduced lunch list at the local school and taking them shopping for Christmas gifts for themselves and their families. There’s a lot more to it than that but for my purpose here, here’s what you need to know: we collected money for Shop with a Hero in October and how much money was collected determined how many kids and families we could help.
The night before the amount was to be announced I had a dream that when the pastor stood in front of the church to announce the total, that with a down-trodden face he sadly explained that we only collected $100 and that wasn’t enough to make it worth doing the event so Shop with a Hero was cancelled.
It was just a dream, but it reveals what was in my subconscious.
That morning, when our youth minister stood in front of the church to announce the total, I sat in the choir loft half talking-to-myself and half praying: please don’t say it’s cancelled or that we only collected $100.
Boy was I wrong. The generosity of folks is making it possible for 300 kids to come to the event and have free Chik-fil-a breakfast, hear the real Christmas story, go shopping at Target, and just be loved on and cared for by our church.
The offering was in the thousands of dollars.
And I sat in the choir loft with my draw dropped open surprised. Why?
I think one reason is the human factor. The event depended on people getting behind the idea not just in spirit but financially, and I — for whatever reason — don’t have much faith in people. But my faith is not to be in people anyway, right? What does it say about my faith in God that I expect so little?
I walked into the pregnancy test center last week feeling convicted for expecting so little of God. We pray each morning, before we open, for so many things. We pray for miracles and when they happen we’re surprised. On the one hand, it’s good to carry so much awe for Almighty God than when something unexpected happens we’re reminded of just how big and powerful and good He is. On the other hand, I pray that I be healed of my unbelief, and that I walk a fine middle line of expecting great and mighty miracles and yet still celebrating in awe — though not necessarily in surprise — when God comes through.
“Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.” Jeremiah 33:3